Brands & Advertising
‘Actions of our leaders are biggest cause of Nigeria’s poor perception’
February 20, 2018 | 12:25 am| | | Start Conversation
Reputation Solutions Providers Limited (RSPL) is a corporate communications firm newly established to offer clients 360-degree corporate communications consultancy – from need identification to strategy formulation and to program execution. Led by Ezedi Udom, a practitioner who has seen it all – media, agency and client, in this interview, Udom speaks about the challenges and prospects of PR practice in Nigeria and the gaps RSPL has come to fill in the industry. He said many managers erroneously see PR as a cost centre with minimal returns on investment and a place to start any cost cutting measures in times of harsh economic conditions. Excerpts.
As a practitioner, how would you describe media relations business landscape in Nigeria?
Media business landscape is still emerging. Amidst the challenges of an emerging industry, the practitioners are making the best out of it and trying to instil professionalism into it. The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) are doing a great job in elevating the profession to enviable heights.
What will you say are the major challenges facing the industry?
Some of the challenges facing the industry are not peculiar to us. The first is the issue of talent. Our educational system hardly delivers ready-to-use talent to the industry, so we have to train our new hires to fit the work we offer them. Secondly is high mobility in the industry which makes it difficult to bank on a staff for one year. Another major challenge is the poor perception of the benefits of PR services to corporate organisations. Many managers see PR as a cost centre with minimal returns on investment and a place to start any cost cutting measures in times of harsh economic conditions. Practitioners owe the practice a duty of educating corporate services executives in the country and others who oversee corporate communications in various corporate.
The country’s perception has remained abysmally low externally. What could account for this poor perception and how could PR change the narrative?
The biggest cause of the country’s poor perception locally or abroad are the actions of our leaders. No country will have the level of bloodshed we have in this country, the level of corruption, injustice, maladministration and expect to have a glowing reputation. What is this reputation we are talking about? Is it not the aggregate of all a country or person is known for? We have been known for one too many ugly things, unfortunately. I’m not saying that there is a country that doesn’t have these issues, the only reason we are tagged as such is because of the failure of our leadership to deal with these issues squarely. So if we want to change how we are perceived, we should only change our behaviour and posturing. If you live your brand promises, you will have a good reputation. The only link between the growth of the PR industry and the country’s poor reputation is that the industry, despite its growth in Nigeria, is yet to move PR practice into the executive function. PR in Nigeria is largely confined to the implementation stage of policies.
Companies are now, more than ever before interested in ROI. Will this be a challenge to PR industry? How does PR estimate/Calculate ROI?
This issue is always a recurring one. In my experience, the only general formula to calculate the return on investments is the achievement of agreed deliverables. These deliverables are dependent on the nature of the problem that PR sets out to address, the programme proposed and agreed and the budget. Apart from this, there are no hard and fast rules to it. For campaigns targeted at bringing the media or public to an event, for instance, will have media or public attendance to that event as the index for measurement. For me, indices of measurement must be agreed upon before the commencement of the campaign.
Among Plethora of PR firms, you have established a PR firm. In specific terms, what gaps have you come to fill in the industry?
Reputation Solutions Providers Limited (RSPL) is a corporate communications firm focused on providing quality public relations services to individuals and corporate bodies and assist them in achieving their objectives. We offer end-to-end corporate communications services – from need identification to strategy formulation and to program execution – to ensure that individual or organisational needs are optimally achieved. Our vision is to democratise PR services in a way that no corporate body in the country will be un-served. We work to achieve this by delivering quality corporate communications support to individuals and corporate bodies at pocket-friendly costs. Our business model is such that keeps our overhead costs to the barest minimum so as keep our pricing highly affordable for our clients and prospects.
Why should clients engage RSPL?
RSPL prides itself in its team of experienced and versatile consultants from various fields – corporate communications, media practice, academia, events management etc. At the crux of our strategy is corporate communications audit that helps identify what your organisational needs are. This helps in drafting a tailor-made program that will address the identified needs. At RSPL, we believe that good corporate communications consultancy goes beyond needs identification and good policy formulation to include excellent program execution. To this end, our team of practitioners pay as much attention to project execution as we pay to needs identification and program formulation. Our key differentiators include our experienced and versatile personnel, strategic depth, time tested communications architecture, effective messaging capability, wide and enduring media contacts and focused execution, among others.
The 2015 election campaign was, instead of issues, characterised by hate speeches. Given the opportunity, how would you deploy PR strategies to manage 2019 election campaigns in a more humane and accommodating manner?
Like I said earlier, the 2019 general elections is going to be interesting for PR practitioners. Although PR strategies were also deployed in 2015, the campaigns were executed like a war without rules, anything and everything went into it. Politicians heated the polity almost to a boiling point with their divisive campaigns. The polarisation they caused then is still intact today and will most likely be reinforced in 2019. The elections were won and lost but not without scars on both winners and losers. There used to be a saying that everything is fair in love as in war but you would agree with me that modern wars are now governed by rules. If not there wouldn’t be war crimes court. If wars could be fought according to rules our political campaigns should be done in line with laid down rules to reduce the scars in the aftermath of the elections. What will mark us out as a civilized people is the civility and decorum we bring to bear on our campaigns. This is not too hard to do. A good PR team would only SWOT its client to know their insights, demographics, psychographics and needs of the various stakeholders and craft a communications campaign plan that will resonate with them and endear its client to them.
Big Read |